Hand washing etiquette

If you’ve ever worked in retail, you’re most likely quite familiar with the unfortunate fact that many people don’t know how to behave.  I have a few nasty retail stories, but today’s post is about another issue of etiquette and hygiene:  hand washing.

You know the ones I’m talking about.  They walk into a public washroom, use the toilet, and then leave.  Why don’t people wash?  Do they not know what the sink is there for??  And soap?  It’s even called a fucking washroom, not an outhouse.  If you’re thinking about blaming men, think again. Women can be almost as disgusting as men when it comes to hand washing, statistics say.  My personal anecdotal experience corroborates that finding.  Even though women can look and smell all dainty, it doesn’t mean they’ve got good personal hygiene.

SARS was actually attributed with increasing hand washing compliance in Toronto, albeit temporarily.   Many buildings as a result, however, are now equipped with hand sanitizer dispensers near the entrances, washrooms and perhaps even throughout the whole building.  This brings up another question:  is it acceptable to use hand sanitizer instead of washing?  I’ve seen people use the washroom – not wash – but grab some Purell on the way out.  Is that okay?!?  Hand sanitizer solution is typically 60% to 95%  alcohol, so it kills most germs.  But unlike good old soap and water, whatever was on your hands before you sanitized is still there.  Hand washing isn’t just about killing germs; it also removes chemicals and other contaminants.  Ideally, Purell should be used as a supplement to hand washing, i.e. when you don’t have a sink handy, or after you’ve washed with soap and water.

If you’ve been in almost any public washroom in Toronto, chances are you have seen one of these signs provided by Toronto Public Health, with instructions and pictures showing how to wash your hands.  One of the washrooms at my workplace has THREE signs about hand washing inside, and another one posted by the door with a Purell dispenser.  It’s a sad social commentary that we need to put instructions on everything nowadays.  Are people getting dumber, à la Idiocracy?  Most people should learn when and how to wash their hands when they are small children.  What are the chances they’re going to forget how?  I’d like to think we’re not that far gone yet.

So, why don’t people choose to wash?  They’re fucking lazy.  It takes twenty seconds to wash your hands.  That’s it.

If you are one of those dirty people who do not wash their hands, it’s time to clean up your act.

5 Responses to Hand washing etiquette

  1. David Procunier says:

    As someone who rides the subway every day to work and back, I have to touch the poles that everyone else does and possibly come in contact with all kinds of stuff I don’t want to think about. But despite that, the last time I was sick enough that I had to miss work/school was years ago. I attribute this to the fact that I make a large effort to wash my hands before every meal, every time after I use the washroom and I try to avoid rubbing my eyes if I know my hands are dirty.

    I occasionaly see someone using a hankie or something to avoid touching the subway pole, and I do think they’re being paranoid. (Surgical masks also crack me up considering they do NOTHING to stop people from breathing in germs.)

  2. DV says:

    The germ scare has caused the hand-soap industry to almost exclusively produce anti-bacterial soap. The ignorance of the general public about how such things contributing to the ever increasing degree of antibiotic resistance in bacteria is tragic.

  3. Nida Ahmed says:

    Whoever has written this article should learn the basic etiquette of not using foul language when reaching out to people rather than preaching the etiquette of hand washing which i personally believe is of less imporance than behavior in public.

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